How Do I Find Time for Things Other Than My Day Job?
Okay, to start, let me say that I am no time management guru. I know what works for me, so all I'm doing here is sharing my recipe. Others can decide if some or all of the ingredients work for them.
These items are what I did a few years ago when I had an 8-5 job (not including commute), was writing on the side, working on a variety of side hustles on the side (all failed, but I tried), and running 50-70 miles per week in training for several big races.
1. First, you have to decide what you most value.
You can't do everything. Some things are going to get cut. Accept it, and better yet, embrace the challenge of the constraint. Make a list (go ahead and do it on NotePD) of the ten things you most want from life right now. You're going to cut that list down because you don't have time to do all ten, but it's a place to start.
2. Prioritize your list.
If you did not already do so, move the items on your list in order of priority.
3. Then, identify approximately how much time each item will take each day.
Then add 10%. Because things almost always take longer than we expect.
4. Look at your day like a pie chart.
The entire circle represents 24 hours in a day. Take your prioritized list and fit in as many things as you can with the time you allotted them.
For instance, here was my list from a few years ago that filled my pie chart:
1 - Sleep (8 hours)
2 - Job (10 hours, including commute)
3 - Running (2 hours, including getting dressed, warm-ups, and cool-downs)
4 - Reading/Writing (I often do these in tandem - 1 hour)
5 - Side hustle (1 hour)
6 - Shower, cleaning, cooking, eating, calling/texting family and friends (1.5 hours)
7 - Netflix and chill (.5 hours)
There it is - 24 hours doing things I most value.
5. Take one week to see how you can handle your pie chart.
Run the schedule you created. You'll probably need to tweak some things. Some stuff needs more time; some less; some things may go in or out of the chart.
6. YOU ARE FIGHTING A WAR.
I remember James saying on a podcast (I'm paraphrasing) that if your time is tight, and you're trying to build a business on the side or do some other big thing, then you need to treat it like you're training for the Olympics.
That's good advice, but I prefer to take it a step further. I think of it like fighting a way.
Assuming you are truly doing things you most value, and you're going after big things in life, then you are going to feel like you're on a mission. What's your mission? Identify it and treat your day like total warfare - wake up early and go, go, go until you collapse in bed at night. Defeat your enemy. Forward is your battle cry! And other such violent metaphors.
7. Stay disciplined.
It's easy to take just one thing overboard and now your schedule is totally blown up. For instance, all of us can relate to getting carried away with binging something on Netflix, then going to bed late, then waking up late, and the result is your next day is totally fucked. Don't do that. Stay focused; stay disciplined.
8. Always have an out.
Everyone needs some downtime. For me, the half hour a night of Netflix before falling asleep was good for the five-day work week. But, if I had to do that seven days a week, with no additional downtime, I would have burned out. The weekend was my out. I always treated it as 1) a time to decompress from the challenging week, and then 2) a time to get after long-term projects that were important to me, and that may or may not be on my pie chart.
9. If you miss something, just start over where you are.
It's not a big deal. Missed a workout? Didn't work on your side hustle today? Be kind to yourself. Don't beat yourself up. Identify what happened, avoid doing it again, and then pick up where you're at in your schedule right now and continue your day.
10. Don't be too rigid.
If something isn't working, change it. It's your life. No matter your spiritual beliefs, we can all agree that this life will not happen again - so do with it what you will.